* Craftsman Posts $8,000 Lap 80 Leader Award NCTS Etc. Bobby Hamilton Racing will hold its 7th Annual Open House on Thursday evening. Tickets are $5 with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. Driver Ken Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal...
* Craftsman Posts $8,000 Lap 80 Leader Award
Bobby Hamilton Racing will hold its 7th Annual Open House on Thursday evening. Tickets are $5 with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. Driver Ken Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) will make his first NASCAR start at Nashville Superspeedway -- the last track on the 2007 schedule at which he is a "rookie." "I ran the first event ever held at the Nashville Superspeedway," said Schrader. "It was an ARCA race and we won. I am not sure why, but they did not present us with the guitar. I guess it was not given to the ARCA winner at that time. I was truly heartbroken. Everyone wants to win that guitar. I don't think you will meet a driver in the garage area who doesn't have that trophy on their list."
Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) and David Starr (No. 10 MAXXForce Ford) agree with Schrader. "The guitar in Nashville is one of the most coveted trophies in all of racing," said Crawford, who finished second in 2002. "A few years ago, we were close, but no guitar!" said Starr.
Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota) finished fourth in last year's Toyota Tundra 200 -- his worst performance in six tries that include a trio of seconds. "You have to drive that race track a little different than what it looks like. I don't want to give out the secrets, but I kind of drive it different maybe than a lot of drivers," he said.
David Green (No. 1 RFMS/Red Horse Racing Toyota) "doubled" in Nashville winning NASCAR Busch Series races at the fairgrounds in 1995 and Nashville Superspeedway. "Never did I dream that I'd have a shot at winning at the new track and to do that in 2003, as you can imagine, it makes Nashville one of my favorite places that we go," said Green. Sprague also won a NASCAR Busch race at Nashville Superspeedway in 2002. Craftsman Posts Lap 80 Leader Prize
As Craftsman celbrates its 80th anniversary in August, the Official Tools of NASCAR will offer a special bonus for teams competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
For both events run in that month, at Nashville Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, the team leading the race on Lap 80 will receive an additional $8,000 prize.
"We wanted to do something in the series to mark this important milestone for Craftsman," said Scott Howard, manager, sponsorships and sales promotion for Sears Holdings. "The competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is always intense, but for these two races there is another dimension to deal with.
"The drivers and crew chiefs will have to manage setups, strategy and pit stops around being in front at Lap 80 as well as the end."
No doubt the award is particularly appealing to series standings leader Mike Skinner, who has led at least one lap in each of the 14 races in 2007.
"This is a pretty cool deal," he said. "It's always neat to win an award. Obviously, I hope the No. 5 truck is leading the race on the 80th lap."
Manufacturer Leader Two-For-Four In Music City
With more than 8,000 Toyota employees expected to attend Saturday's Toyota Tundra 200, it would seem important that the product they build winds up in Victory Lane.
And two out of three times since Toyota joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, it has.
David Reutimann scored his first victory at Nashville Superspeedway in 2005 with Johnny Benson following a year ago.
"Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) didn't hire me to sit back and ride around. If there is a truck in front of me, I am going to pass them somehow." -- Ron Hornaday Jr., on how he plans to run the remaining 21 races in pursuit of his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.
In The Loop
For certain, Mike Skinner welcomes the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' return to Nashville Superspeedway. The track suits Skinner perfectly -- big, wide open and fast.
Skinner, coming off a 20th-place finish at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, has had success in the past at Nashville.
He won the pole there in 2005 en route to a fourth-place finish, and last year led a race-high 50 laps (he finished 17th). Over the past two years, Skinner sits atop a number of key statistical categories.
Skinner is first in Driver Rating (133.3), the top Average Running Position (2.4), the most Fastest Laps Run (56) and the highest number of Laps in the Top 15 (295).
Ron Hornaday Jr., who closed to within 77 points of Skinner with his win at ORP, will have to improve on recent Nashville finishes if he wants to keep pace with the points leader. He has an average finish at Nashville of 22.5. He has a Nashville Driver Rating of 86.3 (15th-best), an Average Running has a Position of 17.6 (23rd-best) and has spent only 112 of the 301 total laps over the past two years in the top 15.
Johnny Benson, the defending champion of this event, Nashville Driver Rating of 110.4 and an Average Running Position of 8.0. He also has 277 Laps in the Top 15, which is second-most to Skinner.
With just 16 points covering the top three Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates heading to Nashville, the battle for top freshman honors is expected to get even closer. The Toyota Tundra 200 is the season's 15th race -- and the first in which Tim Sauter, Willie Allen and Blake Bjorklund can begin disposing of "worst finishes." The championship is based upon a candidate's 14 best finishes plus end-of-season bonus points.
Up Next: Bristol Motor Speedway
One of the biggest mid-week attractions in motorsports will be staged for the fifth time Aug. 22 when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series invades the reconfigured Bristol Motor Speedway. Upwards of 60,000 fans will head for Thunder Valley to witness what has become a "can't miss" event on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck schedule.
This year's race -- the 10th at the East Tennessee facility -- will be the first for NASCAR on Bristol's new, compound banking. The previous concrete surface was removed after March's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Food City 500. Two days of testing several weeks ago found 2003 O'Reilly 200 winner Travis Kvapil atop the speed charts with a lap of 119.626 mph, closely followed by fellow NASCAR Craftsman Truck champion Ted Musgrave at 119.321.
Mark Martin is the defending winner of the O'Reilly 200 and is expected to compete in this year's race.
Next Race: Toyota Tundra 200
The Place: Nashville Superspeedway
The Date: Aug. 111
The Time: 6:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED 6:00 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.33-mile oval
Race Purse: $484,584
2006 Winner: Johnny Benson
2006 Pole: Erik Darnell
Friday -- Practice 2:15 -- 3:15 p.m., 3:45 -- 4:15 p.m. (rookies) and 4:15 -- 5:15 p.m.
Saturday -- Qualifying 12:30 p.m.